The Secret Seven’s most obvious puzzle lies in the fact that they are incredibly difficult to spot – in fact, they are rated as the most challenging game animals to view on safari. This makes for deserved excitement when one uncovers even just one of Africa’s Secret Seven at Madikwe Game Reserve.


While they may look like a cat with their elongated, slender bodies and long tails and clean themselves like a cat, don’t let this undercover agent have you fooled for acting as a cat’s stunt double. Madikwe Safari Lodge’s Large Spotted Genet and the other 13 species of Genets are entirely unrelated to the cat family and are, in fact, more closely related to mongoose and civets. Spot the difference. The term “large” in the name refers to the size of the spots and not the animal’s size, differentiating it from the “small spotted” genet. The Secret Seven-member has black rings encircling a rusty coloured dot in the middle, while the Small-Spotted Genet simply has black dots for spots. With the two species being similar in size, both standing at roughly 21cm at the shoulder, another more noticeable difference is that the Large-spotted genet has a black-tipped tail while the Small-Spotted Genet has a white-tipped tail. Small or Large, you can spot both at Madikwe Safari Lodge if you’re lucky enough on a night drive!


Large-Spotted Genets are nocturnal and spend most of the daytime hidden up in a tree or hulled away in a burrow, awaiting the cover of darkness and the coolness of the night. While they are fantastic climbers and well adapted to an arboreal way of living, they spend most of their waking time foraging on the ground. They are usually solitary but occasionally seen in pairs, mainly during the breeding season. Excellent eyesight and agility make them highly adept predators, combining speed and stealth, stalking their prey in a sequence of dashes broken by short pauses. Genets are mainly carnivorous, although insects and fruit are a regular part of their diet.

Foul Play

Like the Civet, Cenets produce secretions conveying messages that communicate sexual, social, or territorial behaviour. When angry, frightened, or injured, they can excrete a foul-smelling substance that deters enemies. When stressed, they emit a strong musky odour from their anal glands, and this smell often indicates where they have urinated. A large part of why Genets are nocturnal is due to predators being active during the daytime, such as the Crowned Eagle. 

Join the super sleuth team to uncover the Secret Seven’s mysteries at Madikwe Game Reserve by booking your stay with us today!